Let me know if this sounds familiar: you’re looking to lose weight without really dieting. You just want a quick way to lose a few pounds and you still eat your favorite foods, right?
We’ve heard this one before.
Well, if you’re like me and you’re looking for something new to add to your regimen of healthy living, you’ve probably read about intermittent fasting. The idea behind this form of fasting is that you only eat during certain windows of the day. This is supposed to give your body time to properly digest food and burn off the calories of your previous meal.
Fasting sounds scary. It sounds like deprivation. And there’s some truth to that. But with intermittent fasting you don’t go entire days without food, you simply don’t eat until later in the day and then stop eating well before bed.
If you’re ready for it, it’s actually not too tough and may give you a new way to keep your metabolism on its toes (so to speak).
5 Things You Should Know Before You Start Fasting
You’ll want to take it slow.
If you’re looking for a healthy habit to add to your already healthy lifestyle, intermittent fasting is simple to do and you can take your time. When I started, all I did was quit eating at 8:00 p.m. That’s all. I simply decided I wasn’t going to consume any food right before I went to sleep. (I typically go to bed around 11:00.) This meant by breakfast time I was ready to eat. I did this for one week.
Then, I pushed my breakfast back. Instead of eating right when I got up at 7:00 a.m., I had my oatmeal at my desk at 10:00 a.m. This meant I was going without food from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. That’s a 14-hour fast and a pretty good start.
After a week of fasting for 14 hours, I decided to skip breakfast and wait until lunch. At first, I was desperate for lunch at 11:00. A couple days later I waited until noon. Then I made it until 1:00 p.m. This felt like a huge deal. I hadn’t eaten since before 8 the night before and I had pushed off lunch until afternoon. By the time I sat down to eat, I was famished. I had packed a wrap and the first day I fasted until 1:00. I swear I hardly took a break from chewing to enjoy my meal.
Fasting was hard at first, but it got better. As I challenged myself, each hour I added felt like a mini-accomplishment—and that was cool.
You’ll get hungry—and that’s kinda the point.
To say you can give up your breakfast and not get hungry is crazy. Your stomach will growl. I got through with a lot of coffee (black) and green tea (pomegranate). Whenever I got super hungry, I turned to a big cup of cold water.
In those first couple week, water was my best friend. Seriously, me and my jug literally hung out. We chatted. I told her I loved her. I begged her to never leave me, and she never did. We became great friends. I imagine one day I’ll have to get a new water bottle when this one gets old but I’ll never throw this one away because she was there for me. Instead, I’ll put her on a shelf in my kitchen and look at her often, tell her I remember our days together, getting through those tummy growls, just she and I, friends for life.
You’ll appreciate food more.
I told you my first 1:00 p.m. lunch was something I had to do in private. Eating at my desk was out of the question because I was sighing with joy over a simple Thai kale wrap, and, frankly, that much noise over kale and people start looking at you funny. But the moral of the story is: you start to appreciate food when you quit taking it for granted. I learned this on my plant-based journey, but it became even more clear when I tried intermittent fasting.
The benefits of intermittent fasting are documented. Speedier metabolism, lower insulin levels, increased cellular repair—but I think the mental benefits almost outweighed what was happening to my body. I felt like I was challenging myself and winning. I felt clearer in the morning. I felt like I was working harder because I was less distracted. Then when it came time to eat, I took my time, chewed with care and thought harder about what I was packing in my lunch because it mattered a lot to me.
You’ll feel clearer throughout the morning.
Initially, I worked so hard through the mornings just to avoid feeling hungry. I was used to my big breakfasts—my coconut oats, my chia parfaits—but I swear my head was clearer after a week of skipping breakfast and focusing only on work. I dominated my to-dos one by one because I was waking up easier, getting started quicker and staying in my chair. (Just keep an eye on your coffee intake because the caffeine adds up.)
Honestly, I started to wonder how much time in the week I’d wasted before, wandering around looking for a snack. If I’d fasted all this time might I be President of the United States by now? Queen of England? The first human to set foot on Mars? (What a little hunger does to the imagination!)
You’ll hear your mom’s voice scolding you—but she’ll go away after lunch.
Here’s one thing to consider. There was one major hurdle for me when it came to intermittent fasting. Besides the periodic hunger and the new routine, I kept hearing my mom in the back of my head saying, “Eat your breakfast.” “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” “Breakfast makes you smarter.” It’s like she was there with me each day, the little voice in my head saying, “Just one muffin. It’ll be okay.”
But no, mom. Not today. Today I will not eat that muffin because today I’m challenging myself to try new things. Today, I’m challenging my body to get everything out of the foods I choose to consume. Today, I’m eating a very delicious, well-planned, super-anticipated, very-very important lunch at exactly 1:00 p.m… Maybe 12:59… Possible 12:45… Okay, 12:30.
But tomorrow I eat lunch at 1:00. I promise.
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting?
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